Video and Multimedia

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Video Links

  • A Hidden Life 
    In 2005, Jim West, Spokane’s conservative mayor, was publicly disgraced after a newspaper ran a series of articles alleging that he had not only engaged in homosexual activity but that he had committed acts of sexual abuse and misused his political office. This program explores the complicated story of West’s seemingly “double” life and raises uneasy questions about the distinctions between “personal” and “public” personas in the digital age.
  • Growing up Online 
    Jessica Hunter developed an online persona for herself that bore little resemblance to the one she presented at school. Online she was known as model and artist, Autumn Edows. This program explores the reasons she created an alternate identity and how she feels about that identity. Her experience raises questions about authenticity and whether there is in fact such a thing as a “real” or “true” self.
  • The Do Not Enter Diaries: Ethan Z 
    The Do Not Enter Diaries ( ) is a series of short videos in which teens offer tours of their bedrooms and explain the significance of their décor and possessions. In this video, Ethan Z shows viewers around his room.

Audio Links

  • Why We Revel In Others' 'Humiliation' 
    Interview with Wayne Koestenbaum about his book Humiliation and sociologist C.J. Pascoe, who has researched humiliation rituals among teenage boys. 
  • This American Life 121: Twentieth Century Man 
    One thing that makes our country different from most others is this idea that you can recreate yourself as someone you'd prefer to be: sell everything off, head out West, start a new life. But what happens if you're too good at it? Over the course of his life, Keith Aldrich was a child of the Depression in Oklahoma; a preacher-in-training in booming California; an aspiring Hollywood actor; in the 1950s, a self-styled Beat writer, and then a man in a gray flannel suit; in the 1960s, a member of the New York literati, and then a hippie; in the 1970s, a denizen of the suburbs with a partying life; and a born-again Christian when the Moral Majority helped put Ronald Reagan in office. The program is devoted to the story of Keith's life, as told by one of his nine children, Gillian Aldrich. Keith's life is not only a history of most of the major cultural shifts in the second half of the Twentieth Century. It's also a case study of the question, "What happens if you're too good at transforming yourself?"
  • This American Life 75: Kindness of Strangers 
    A significant portion of social life is influenced by the images we form of others and the images others form of us.  This program presents stories of the kindness or unkindness of strangers, and where it leads.  All of the stories take place in the city most people think of as the least kind city in America: New York.

Web Resources

Professional Resources

  • Sociology of Emotions 
    Although it is not their exclusive interest, members of the American Sociological Association (ASA) Section on the Sociology of Emotions often study self-presentation issues.
  • Study of Symbolic Interaction 
    Symbolic interactionists are disproportionately likely to study self-presentation and impression management. See Symbolic Interaction, the official journal of the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction (SSSI).

Other Resources

  • Dr. Ubel 
    Dr. Peter Ubel and his colleagues sent observers to five Pennsylvania hospitals to determine the frequency and nature of inappropriate talk about patients among hospital personnel while behind their back (i.e., “back stage”).  Learn more about Dr. Ubel and this research.
  • Advertising Age 
    Much commercial advertising (print and broadcast) is aimed at selling “images” as much as selling “products.” Consumption of the product being advertised ties the consumer to a particular image being sold. Advertising Age is a trade magazine for those working in the advertising industry and is considered a preeminent source of marketing, advertising and media news, information and analysis. 

    One major way in which people manage other’s impressions is through body modification, notably but not exclusively cosmetic (“plastic”) surgery. The following groups promote this practice.

  • ASAPS 
    The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), founded in 1967, is the leading professional organization of plastic surgeons certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery who specialize in cosmetic plastic surgery [self-characterization].
  • Plastic Surgery Statistics 
    Statistics on trends in plastic surgery—by type, by gender—are available from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons’ National Clearinghouse of Plastic Surgery Statistics at the ASPS Web site.
  • Body Modification Ezine 
    Not all body altering rituals and practices take place under the “official” rubric of plastic surgery. Piercing (other than ears) and tattooing are becoming increasingly popular among “mainstream” Americans.
  • Body Modification in Museums 
    Body modification and what it means is personal and cultural. What does it mean to you? People around the world have been piercing, tattooing, and painting their bodies for ages. There’s excellent evidence of this, some of it dating as far back as the 9th-century B.C., in the galleries of the University of Pennsylvania Museum [self-description]. 

    What about those whose body size does not meet cultural standards? Two organizations exist that advocate on behalf of these individuals.

  • International Size Acceptance Association 
    The mission of the International Size Acceptance Association (ISAA) is to promote size acceptance and fight size discrimination throughout the world by means of advocacy and visible, lawful actions [self-characterization].
  • The National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance 
    The National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance is a nonprofit human rights organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for fat people. NAAFA has been working since 1969 to eliminate discrimination based on body size and provide fat people with the tools for self-empowerment through public education, advocacy, and member support [self-characterization].
  • Understanding and Challenging HIV Stigma  
    The “Understanding and Challenging HIV Stigma: Toolkit for Action” toolkit was designed for NGOs, community groups and HIV educators to raise awareness and promote actions to challenge HIV stigma and discrimination. Based on research in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Zambia, the toolkit contains more than 125 exercises [self-characterization].
  • The National Communication Association 
    The National Communication Association advances communication as the discipline that studies all forms, modes, media and consequences of communication through humanistic, social scientific and aesthetic inquiry. The NCA serves the scholars, teachers, and practitioners who are its members by enabling and supporting their professional interests in research and teaching. Dedicated to fostering and promoting free and ethical communication, the NCA promotes the widespread appreciation of the importance of communication in public and private life, the application of competent communication to improve the quality of human life and relationships, and the use of knowledge about communication to solve human problems. NCA is the largest national organization to promote communication scholarship and education. A non-profit organization, NCA has over 8,000 educators, practitioners, and students who work and reside in every state and more than 20 countries.